Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Years Ago Today...

Three years ago today, I went through what SHOULD have been one of the most physically painful experiences of my life... but I remember nothing of the pain.

I remember arguing with Ralph at seven in the morning, the Monday before Thanksgiving, trying to win the permission to take a shower while I was being rounded up to get in the car during contractions every three mintutes.

I lost.  I got in my Monte Carlo, and we headed for the hospital.

Man, I could still TALK through my contractions... I couldn't be THAT bad off, right?

When we got the hospital, I was dilated to 5cm, and I was having a contraction every two to three minutes.  Yep - I had won myself a stay on the maternity floor.

I remember them doing one last little ultrasound to make sure our little man was still positioned correctly.

He got the nickname "Baby Big Head" right then and there, as I realized how much larger the size of his head looked compared to the outline of my pelvis on that little black and white screen.

I remember hanging out in an uncomfortable bed, listening to my baby's heartbeat blip through the monitor.  Realizing that Ralph was *not* going to be awake with be through this process, as he drifted in the chair next to the bed.

I remember a nurse telling me that if I wanted the epidural, I'd have to decide, pretty much, right then and there.  Because they had a c-section scheduled, and they probably wouldn't be out on time to give it to me later.  I was dialated to 7cm at that point, and fully effaced.

I gave in to my fear of not knowing if I could handle the possible future pain, and got the epidural.

I regretted it every minute afterwards.

They broke my water within minutes of placing the epidural, as well as started Pitocin.  I then spent the next two hours having to be turned from side to side as my child's heartbeat decelerated with each contraction.

My uterus was smooshing his tiny little body - his heart was having a hard time battling the strength of each contraction, and they were sometimes literally one after the next, with barely a split second of recovery between them.

I remember a nurse explaining to me that they were going to have to replenish some of the fluid around him - "give hima little whirlpool bath in there" - to try and cushion him from the stress.

A resident nearly went into panic mode with the absolute lows of my blood pressure.  I remember someone thinking aloud about how I was managing to stay so alert with my BP so desperately low.

I never did feel the slightest bit tired - I was too busy listening to that beeping monitor, waiting for any signs of something still going wrong.

I remember being checked again... and being told that I was at 9cm... they were calling my doctor.

Half an hour later, all I felt was that I was ready.  HE was ready.  I sent Ralph off to find a nurse.  Now.  She wandered in, telling me that they had just checked me 30 minutes ago... my doctor wasn't even there yet.

But Greyson?  Oh, he was there.  I mean, RIGHT THERE.

In a bit of a fit, a resident was told to stay with me, and I was told to try NOT to push.  It was no easy feat.

About ten minutes later, my doctor's PARTNER walked in the room.  He hadn't scrubbed in, he literally had just arrived.

After giving him a "little push to see where we are," he immediately told me to STOP - he was scrubbing in.

One contraction in - and the connection between the absolute atrocity of the last few months of heartburn and the tremendous amount of hair on the infant entering the world was made.

We also discovered that my son - my little stinker - had decided to poop on his way out.  Fabulous.  In comes the pediatric team.

In between contractions, we discussed the name we had chosen for our son - and the doctor joked about how he'd neither be "Blackson" or "Whiteson."

Two more contractions - 13 minutes from my first push - and Greyson Raphael was born - six pounds, six ounces of determination and joy, at 2:43pm.  His first cry stole the breath from me - this was MY CHILD.

All was fine in the terms of the meconium birth.  He scored a 9 on the APGAR, followed by a 10.

Just before being bundled and brought to me,  he rolled ontp his side and peed on the nurse.  Little did I know that seemingly insignificant move would outline his tenacity for life.

After what seemed like an eternity of watching that wriggling little life instead of feeling it within me, my son was placed in my arms.

I never believed in love at first sight until that immediate moment in time.  I looked into his wide, oh-so-intelligent eyes, and never wanted the moment to end.

I remember pulling back the blanket to look at his tiny little feet.  I also remember laughing at the crooked second toe on both feet - completely mimicking the toes that I have called my own for a lifetime.

I remember the tears that swallowed up my soul, giving every single breath I would take for the rest of my life to this precious little bundle.  I knew then and there that nothing would ever be more important than the tiny baby I held against my chest.

When they took him for his first bath, it was one of the strangest sensations - the emptiness inside, the lack of kicking and squirming from deep within my belly - and no replacement for its loss in my arms.  I was separated, somehow, from the very essence of me - that baby boy with a head full of dark, dark hair and curious eyes.

I was moved to my room while they cleaned Greyson up - and I remember the absolute light that came into the room with him when he returned.

I remember laying him on my chest, his heart to mine, and him lifting his head ever so slightly to gaze right into my eyes.  Something told me, then and there, that inside this child was, indeed, an old soul... and our bond would be nothing less than a miracle.  NOTHING with this child would ever be less than the world.

Greyson spent the entire first twelve hours of his life studying the new world around him.  He was not content with being solitary for very long periods of time - already he craved that closeness, that connection between a mother and a son - and I eventually caved to the offer of a pacifier for my seemingly starving child.

At the end of those first twelve hours, I also relented to asking the nurses to take him to the nursery for a few hours.  I had been awake since 4am, and it was now closing in on 3am of the following day.

At 8am, they wheeled him back into my room in his little plastic bassinette.  The pediatrician I had selected followed the nurse into the room, bringing with him a sense of dread.  I immediately regretted being so selfish as to want time alone, time to try and sleep, time which I did nothing but toss and turn in my bed thinking about the newest member of my family.

It turns out that my little man was already getting jaundice.  He carried Ralph's bloodtype - A negative - instead of my O negative, setting him up for an ABO incompatibility.

He would need to spend the rest of his stay in the nursery under special lights to try and rid his tiny body of the excess bilirubin.  I could no longer keep my baby at my side until our trip home on the day before Thanksgiving.  In fact, there was an uncertainty that we would be able to bring him home with us that day at all.

I spent the next 34 hours walking back and forth from my room to the nursery every two hours, around the clock.  I was brought a pump to try and facilitate his feedings - they were having to push formula to help the jaundice out of his body.

The first trip to the nursery to find him under the lights with a strange set of black foam goggles over his eyes and across his tiny, tiny face was heartbreaking - the problem at hand was so small, but the heartache in seeing him even more helpless than a newborn should ever be shattered me.

I could only keep him out from under the lights for half an hour at a time to attempt feedings.  Any other contact I wanted with him had to be done through the openings in his little plexiglass incubator... his skin so translucent under the sheer intensity of the lights shining down on him.

Greyson was so sleepy, so sluggish because of the effects of the warm, penetrating lights.  Our tries at breastfeeding were difficult at best.  Each time I left the nursery feeling more and more like I would not be able to nourish my child the way I had hoped, the way I had planned.

Wednesday rolled around like a movie moving frame-by-frame in fast-forward.  Everything was disjointed, somehow, with the relentless mechanical walks to and from the nursery, the syringe feedings of formula after each attempt at developing some sort of success on our own... it started to snow again, just as it had the day Greyson was born.

I was told that the goal was, indeed, to get him going home with us that day - but he would be staying later in the day than the usual 11am discharge time.  I spent the day on edge, wondering what news I would hear each time a nurse came into the room.  Most of the time, it was more of the same - not yet.

Around 5:30pm, we were given the go-ahead.  We could officially return to our little apartment,  now three instead of just two... of course, after waiting about another hour for everything to be finalized.

I remember vividly how lost he looked inside the newborn-sized outfit we had brought to the hospital to bring him home in.  How the hat seemed to swallow his head, and how his hands and feet disappeared into the sleeves and legs of the pale blue velour.

I remember thinking about how absolutely NOTHING at home was purchased with anything less than a seven to eight pound baby in mind, how the rough estimate we had gotten on his size was on the higher end of that range.

I remember the snow falling, ever so gently, around us as I was wheeled  out the hospital doors with Greyson in my arms.  The difficulty trying to persuade myself that yes, this tiny being would be safe in the seat that made him seem just that much smaller.  The drive home with my hand never breaking that bond of touch between me and my new reason for being.  The phone call to my parents who were still on their way to our apartment, their distance to their grandson closing in minute by minute.

I remember bringing Greyson into the apartment, and just... watching him.  Breathing in the essence of him.  Counting his tiny fingers and toes, and just cycling through the disbelief that I had carried someone within me that would so unknowingly complete me.

I also remember sending Ralph and my Dad out to the store to buy not even newborn diapers, but preemie ones.  The newborn-sized ones sent home with us from the hospital covered so much more than a diaper should.  The plans being made between my mom and myself to go to the local Babies 'R Us on the Friday after Thanksgiving to buy some clothing that actually FIT my little munchkin.

2005 was the fist year that Thanksgiving meant so, so much more than it ever had before.

Here's to my laughter, my tears,
My heart and soul,
My reason for being and the reason I feel like banging my head off a wall,
My light and my darkness,
My source of everlasting joy,
My source of wonder and astonishment with every waking hour...
Here's to my son, my world, my life,
The one I wouldn't give the world to change,
And the one who has single-handedly changed my entire world.
My Munchkin, my Boo-Bear, my little big man...
Happy, happy birthday, Greyson...
As I watch you grow, you amaze me more than I ever thought possible...
Nothing could ever mean more to me than the way your smile lights up your entire face,
The way your laughter spreads to everyone in the room,
The way you wrap your arms so tightly around my neck as if you'll never let go...
I love you beyond the capacity of the spoken word,
More than even my soul can capture.

Happy Third Birthday, My Little One.
Happy days into the future forevermore.

2 Harmonizations:

moo said...

happy birthday Greyson!!

Larissa said...

Sorry the post was so long! Heh.

Thank you for your birthday wishes, Moo!